Some factors affecting variation in milk yield in crossbred dairy cows on smallholder farms in north-east Tanzania
Msangi, B. S. J., Bryant, M. J. and Thorne, P. J. (2005) Some factors affecting variation in milk yield in crossbred dairy cows on smallholder farms in north-east Tanzania. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 37 (5). pp. 403-412. ISSN 0049-4747
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s11250-005-6854-7
A 2-year longitudinal survey was carried out to investigate factors affecting milk yield in crossbred cows on smallholder farms in and around an urban centre. Sixty farms were visited at approximately 2-week intervals and details of milk yield, body condition score (BCS) and heart girth measurements were collected. Fifteen farms were within the town (U), 23 farms were approximately 5 km from town (SU), and 22 farms approximately 10 km from town (PU). Sources of variation in milk yield were investigated using a general linear model by a stepwise forward selection and backward elimination approach to judge important independent variables. Factors considered for the first step of formulation of the model included location (PU, SU and U), calving season, BCS at calving, at 3 months postpartum and at 6 months postpartum, calving year, herd size category, source of labour (hired and family labour), calf rearing method (bucket and partial suckling) and parity number of the cow. Daily milk yield (including milk sucked by calves) was determined by calving year (p < 0.0001), calf rearing method (p = 0.044) and BCS at calving (p < 0.0001). Only BCS at calving contributed to variation in volume of milk sucked by the calf, lactation length and lactation milk yield. BCS at 3 months after calving was improved on farms where labour was hired (p = 0.041) and BCS change from calving to 6 months was more than twice as likely to be negative on U than SU and PU farms. It was concluded that milk production was predominantly associated with BCS at calving, lactation milk yield increasing quadratically from score 1 to 3. BCS at calving may provide a simple, single indicator of the nutritional status of a cow population.